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Bailey Studios, Cambridge

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Ashworth Parkes Architects’ sustainable house wins a 2024 RIBA East Award with its ingenious sense of surprise and playfulness

Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith

2024 RIBA East Award

Bailey Studios, Cambridge
Ashworth Parkes Architects for private client
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 125m2

This modest newbuild house, located in a conservation area, displays remarkable ingenuity in the way it utilises its compact site to create an intriguing home. The house provides accommodation for a couple, together with an apartment for their adult daughter. It has the character almost of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle and a capacity to surprise as spaces unfold and are revealed, often using carefully designed joinery to define thresholds and entrances. On entering, the ground floor opens up and occupies the full plot depth through a series of increasingly intimate living spaces, which step down to reduce the height and impact of the development. Staircases at either end lead to the first floor, which accommodates the principal bedroom and a separate apartment that extends to an attic. In between is a roof terrace, carefully positioned to avoid overlooking. This character and ingenuity demonstrates the value that architects can bring in unlocking constrained sites and responding to the specific requirements of their clients.

  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
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On the street facade the house, although new, is self-effacing and appears almost to be part of the established streetscape. Rather than immediately revealing its domestic character, it thoughtfully reinterprets the language of the studio-workshop that previously occupied the site. Carefully designed metal screens reflect the proportions of original garage doors, with a playful inventiveness in their detailing which is also exhibited in the charred timber cladding to the rear.

There is a richness of colour and detail to the interior which clearly derives from the clients’ character and aspirations and the successful way that the architect has interpreted these. There is also an unusual play of scale, with elements such as the saw-tooth rooflight over the living area suggestive of larger, non-domestic spaces and referencing the character of the original studio-workshop. Changing qualities of light from these rooflights and carefully orientated windows animate the interior throughout the day, delivering a character unexpected on a densely developed plot. The sense of surprise and playfulness extends to the ingenious use of built-in joinery for concealed doors and to create intimate spaces for study and additional areas for storage.

  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
  • Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
    Bailey Studios. Credit: Matthew Smith
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The project has high levels of sustainability. It has been built to Passivhaus standards, with a high thermal performance, triple glazing, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) and energy provided via an air-source heat pump. As a whole, it offers a model for the careful, joyful and sustainable redevelopment of a sensitive urban site.

See the rest of the RIBA East winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor RM Construction (Cambridge)
Structural engineer Cambridge Architectural Research

Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects
Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects
Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects
Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects
Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects
Credit: Ashworth Parkes Architects

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